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Elliot Norton Reviews; Lesson From Aloes


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Elliot Norton Reviews
Lesson From Aloes
Program Number


Series Description

Boston theatre critic Elliot Norton interviews prominent actors, directors and producers on their craft. (Aired from October, 1958 to 1982. Winner of both Peabody and Tony Awards.) Series release date: 1958

Program Description

Elliot Norton interviews director Suzanne Shepherd and actors Ed Hall, April Shawhan, and Richard Kavanaugh about “A Lesson From Aloes” by South African playwright, Athol Fugard’s play, at the Trinity Square Repertory Theatre. Norton says the play is about “Three good people caught up in the grinding hatred of racial repression in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.” The play centers around a 1963 farewell dinner party for Steve (Hall), a black labor organizer who has give up the cause, thrown by his friend Piet (Kavanaugh), a white South African of Dutch descent, and Piet’s wife, Gladys (Shawhan), an Englishwoman. Issues of betrayal and madness are brought up during the course of the evening, as evidence of the divisive world under apartheid they are subject to in South Africa.

The guests discuss Piet as an idealist who refuses to leave in the belief that things will change and they compare his character to the playwright, Athol Fugard. Shephers says that the major difference between them is that Shepherd can write about his experiences and tell stories, while Piet cannot. Shepherd says, “Fugard says that living in South Africa is a bad marriage, but to leave would be a divorce and there would be no relevance to him of anything. What would he write about? What would have meaning for him?” Shawhan talks about the friction between her character, Glady, and Glady’s husband, Piet. Gladys is suffering from mental illness and would probably get better if she left the country, but Piet feels that he would die if he left.

The guests discuss issues of idealism, pacifism, and the ability of man and the law to change. They also discuss the symbolism of the allow plant and how it can continue to flower even during a drought.

Director: Joanna Lu. Taped 1/8/1982.

Asset Type

Broadcast program

Media Type


Talk Show
Performing Arts
Chicago: “Elliot Norton Reviews; Lesson From Aloes,” 01/08/1982, WGBH Media Library & Archives, accessed January 23, 2019, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_2121DF158DA44AF095D6FC87D297DEC6.
MLA: “Elliot Norton Reviews; Lesson From Aloes.” 01/08/1982. WGBH Media Library & Archives. Web. January 23, 2019. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_2121DF158DA44AF095D6FC87D297DEC6>.
APA: Elliot Norton Reviews; Lesson From Aloes. Boston, MA: WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_2121DF158DA44AF095D6FC87D297DEC6
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